Catalyst Fund

The Civil Debate Wall


Primary Participant:

Sheila Dickison


Graham Center for Public Service

The Wall is a new portal for civic debate. It is an experiment to determine if we can use social media to train more effective citizens. It is also beautiful and fun to use. When introduced to the Wall, digital natives jump to use it. And we want to see this tool used by the entire campus. The Wall can be visited physically in the Pugh Hall Ocora, where the user interacts by touchpad and has the option of posting a photo with his or her opinion. Those who choose remote interaction with The Wall can visit The Wall will investigate whether one can create meaningful conversations on policy issues using contemporary forms of communication. The questions to be answered are:

  1. (1)  Is The Wall a viable tool for positively impacting civic participation?

  2. (2)  Can The Wall change behaviors in the eighteen to twenty-two demographic utilizing familiar social media interfaces and modern technology?

To that end, the award will provide faculty members or graduate students in six UF entities (colleges, centers, programs (selected by a diverse committee in a competitive application process) funds to develop summer 2012 projects using The Wall as a way to engage students in their respective units, while at the same time bringing the rich resources of UF–its students and faculty– to a creative exploration of new technologies and citizenship.